A charter school is a public school that operates under the terms of a charter contract that details the school’s mission, educational program, students the school will serve, goals for performance, and methods of assessment. The charter contract is typically granted by a local, state or national authority and the school is publicly funded by the state and federal government. In return for greater flexibility from certain state and local rules and regulations, charter schools commit to a higher level of accountability for academic achievement, financial management and organizational stability.
Charter schools are often called “schools of choice” because parents choose them for their students.
Charter schools are open to all students that live within the attendance zone outlined in their charter contract. Charter schools cannot charge tuition, do not have admissions criteria, and are required to serve all student populations, including students with disabilities and English language learners.
In Georgia, charter schools follow the state curriculum guidelines and students must take the Georgia Milestones test each year, just like traditional public school students. Charter schools must follow all federal regulations for schools. However, flexibility from certain state and local regulations allows charter schools to offer unique and innovative programs that may not be available in traditional public schools. For example, schools might loop classrooms, have multi-grade classrooms or they might focus on STEM education, language immersion or project-based learning.
Instead of a local board of education, charter schools are governed by a non-profit board of directors. The board is responsible for ensuring that all of the goals set forth in the charter contract are met. The board is typically comprised of members with the background, knowledge and skill sets that will help with all aspects of running a school such as education, finance, marketing, and law.
The Georgia Department of Education has created an excellent Frequently Asked Questions guide about Charter Schools.
What does this mean for Odyssey?
Odyssey’s charter contract was granted by the State Charter Schools Commission of Georgia (SCSC). We are currently in the middle of a five year contract, which can be found on the Our Charter Contract page of our website. As a state-charter school, we receive state and federal funding, but we do not receive local property tax or E-SPLOST money. Our Governing Board of Directors is a nine-member panel of parents and community members that are elected and/or appointed to the Board, each serving three year terms.
Odyssey students come from all over Coweta County, regardless of their school district. If space is available, students may enroll in the middle of a school year, but enrollment for a new school year is based on the results of a lottery. More information on the lottery process can be found under the Enrollment tab on our website. As a public school, we do not charge tuition. However, we do ask families to volunteer 18 hours of time each school year. We follow the state curriculum and our students take the Georgia Milestones test each spring.
The flexibility granted in our charter allows us to have some unique programs. Student looping is a program that allows students to remain with the same teacher for a two-year period at the lower elementary levels. This fosters a strong student-teacher relationship and provides a greater opportunity for teachers to work with students at their ability level rather than solely by grade level. In addition, we serve students from Kindergarten all the way through 8th grade. Being able to attend the same school for that length of time provides stability and security for students and makes the transition to middle school easier. More importantly, educational programs in place for any particular student are able to continue smoothly as the student passes into middle school. Both of these innovative programs, along with many of the other unique experiences and opportunities that Odyssey provides, create a successful student-centered learning environment.
More information about Odyssey and the programs we offer can be found throughout our website.